tv [untitled] February 26, 2012 10:30pm-11:00pm EST
role on 9/11. plus a history of the b-52 bomber. also, visit the founding fathers' autograph collection at the louisiana state exhibit museum. and from the pioneer heritage center, medical treatment and medicine during the civil war. shreveport, louisiana. next weekend on c-span 2 and 3. this particular phone only rings in a serious crisis. keep it in the hands of a man who has proven himself responsible. vote for president johnson on november 3rd. >> bush and dukakis on crime. bush supports the death penalty for first degree murders. due kas kis not only opposes the at the time penalty, he allowed first degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. one was willie horton. >> the accusations john kerry made against the veterans who served in vietnam was just devastating. >> we can all point to an outrageous commercial or two or three or four. but on average, negative
commercials are more likely to be factually correct and negative commercials are more likely to talk about issues. >> will 2012 be the most negative campaign cycle in history? a new american foundation discussion looks at current and past political campaigns and their impact on american culture. watch this and past panels on political ads online at the c-span video library. search "watch, clip and share." it's what you want when you want. next a discussion which compares and contrasts the political philosophies of theodore roosevelt and barack obama. in 1910, theodore roosevelt delivered his new nationalism speech which es spoused his progressive ideas. last year, president obama went to the same kansas town in which roosevelt made his speech and spoke about his own political philosophy and about the u.s. economy. this two-hour discussion was hosted by the hudson institute
then and now." the title of today's panel "osawatomie then and now" might be a bit misleading. if you're expecting a civic pageant with our panelists re-enacting scenes, you'll be disappointed. i tried to talk them into it but it was a no go. that town in eastern kansas certainly does have a storied pass. just a little over 100 years ago on august 31st, 1910, former president theodore roosevelt mounted a kitchen table on the grounds of the 22-acre state park he was helping to dedicate in osawatomie, john brown state park, and delivered what has gone down in history as his new nationalism speech. it certainly wouldn't have gone down in history as his john brown speech since the fiery abolitionist who had battled
pro-slavery raiders on that spot in the days of bloody kansas slabbed only two cursory mentions in t.r.'s speech. much to the relief of his advisers, i should add, who knew that t.r. regarded himself as a historian, although the corporations of the day weren't about to pay him for his historic advice. the new nationalism speech would be described by one of t.r.'s many biographers, george mallory, as, quote, the most radical speech ever given by an ex-president. his concepts to the extent of which a powerful federal government could regulate and use private property in the interest of the whole and his declarations about-- when viewe eyes of 1910 were nothing short of revolutionary. december 6th, 2011, president barack obama returned to
osawatomie and standing on a platform somewhat more secure than a kitchen table explicitly embraced the underlying philosophy of t.r.'s new nationalism. why a democrat, a member of a party which customarily recurs to the other roosevelt, especially in hard times, should have in this instance embraced the republican roosevelt will no doubt be explored today among many other issues in this discussion we're about to hear. and we have a terrific panel for that discussion composed of prominent political analysts who know a great deal about both the progressive era as well as contemporary politics. i'll introduce first my co-moderator for the day, e.j. dionne, "washington post" columnist who will make later some introductory remarks. then comment on the presentations after they've been made. then we'll hear from a couple of university of virginia professors. sid milkis, author of a
wonderful book on progressive politics entitled "theodore roosevelt, progressive party and the transformation of american democracy." and jim ceaser, professor of politics at uva. next we'll hear from john halpin, senior fellow at the center for american progress. finally, matt spalding, vice president for american studies at heritage foundation. so, e.j. >> first, it's great to see so many people here. happy holidays. to those who celebrate them, merry christmas and happy hanukkah. i want to thank my friend bill schambra for putting together what is a genuinely fair and balanced event. which doesn't always happen in washington. bill and i have been agreeing for about a quarter a century on the importance of community and disagreeing about what progressives make of the idea of community for about that long. and it's just great to be with him. i just want to say something about each of the panelists.
sid milkis's book on the 1912 election, absolutely everyone should read. on the way over here i was remembering the series of books. some of you may be old enough to remember them. they were history books for kids called landmark books that i think random house put together. for some reason a blurb on the back always stayed in my head. anyone who has not feasted upon them has been cheated. well, anyone who has not feasted upon sid's book about the 1912 election has been cheated. when you hear what he has to say, you'll know why you must go out and buy it. jim ceaser is absolutely brilliant, and i find myself disagreeing with jim, but it is highly risky because he's so damn smart. forgive the "damn" on c-span. yet i try to live dangerously. but it's a real honor to be with sid. john halpin has done exceptional work at cap. liberals not surprisingly are not nearly as good as conservatives are in
remembering, honoring and thinking about their own tradition. i think by their very nature conservatives are more inclined to think of what a tradition means. what john has done at cap on progressivism is truly important and i want to salute him and also his colleague. finally, matt spalding and i have also had a running argument for many years over the social gospel movement back in the turn of the century. so i feel -- and he has done some great work on that even though we don't always agree. and so what you have here are a whole lot of people obsessed with america in 1912. and we will try to show how that is entirely related to america in 2012. it is the centennial of that great election, and this election may be as important as that one was. and so i just want to thank everyone, and they know what the order is. i think sid is going next.
>> hi, everybody. good afternoon. thank you so much for coming. bill, thanks for having me. it's an honor to be here. god bless you for shouting out about my book. a feast, that might be a little hyperbole. but i'll take the compliment. i was not surprised, i have to say, to see president obama chaneling theodore roosevelt in osawatomie, kansas. in the last chapter of my book which was published in 2009 on t.r.'s progressive party crusade dh began with the new nationalism, i suggested the election of america's first african-american president revealed that the principles and practices championed by the bull moose campaign as t.r. famously called it had become a powerful and enduring force in american life. i went so far as to claim that
obama in his campaign marked the apoth owe sis of progressive democracy. i have to confess i wasn't quite sure what i meant by that. but it sort of sounded right. it seemed that after three decades dominated by the strains of ronald reagan's refrain that government was no longer the solution, but no the problem, obama brought back into full relief the promise and the peril of a powerful strain of progressivism launched by t.r. in kansas. like t.r., obama identified with lincoln's measured but radical pursuit of emancipation. like t.r., too, obama presented himself as a tran sen dant leader. as roosevelt famously put it in asawatomie, as the steward of the public welfare who could rise above polarizing economic conflict of his time.
who could rise above special interest to serve the interest of the whole people. just as t.r. sought to navigate a purposeful third way between socialism and capitalism, so obama promised to be a post partisan leader who would heal the rank rouse democratic and republican are struggles of the welfare and security states. of course, many of the audacious hopes of obama's campaign have been bitterly disappointed during his first term. the attacks from the left have hardly being less condemning than those from the right. he has often seemed to be a hollowed out form of -- he has embodied a sort of hollowed out form of progressivism sometimes, revealing the solist pragmatism that randolph borg criticized in his brilliant essay published in 1917. he warned that progressives celebrated an execive center administrative state that exalted means over end. that sought to subordinate the truth of first principles, the
truth of the declaration, indeed all doctrine and partisans viewed the democratic experimentation. as fdr would later put it, bold persistent experimentation. disappointed with wilson's war to make the world safe for democracy, a vague -- that did not live up to its promise abroad and was badly betrayed at home. born attacked intellectuals like john dewey and herbert crowley, the godfather of new nationalism. he attacked them as being immersed in what he called pragmatic dispensation. that made them, he said, immensely ready for the executive order, but pitifully unprepared for the intellectual interpretation or idealistic focus. now, had he been around in 2009, born might have flagged a
similar criticism against president obama's dogged but rhetorically empty leadership in the fight over national health reform. a battle he rightfully pointed out began with the progressive party campaign. he tended in his fight for health care reform, the president tended to spew exalted moral principles. for example, the claim of t.r. that health care was a human right, not a privilege, or dubious promises of greater efficiency and cost cutting. the highest rhetorical and programatic aspiration of the health care fight was the public option. you couldn't come up with a worse term, it seemed to me. my colleague, jacob hacker, came up with that term. it testifies, i think, to contemporary progressive rhetorical challenge. can you imagine ceaser and i calling the university of virginia the public option? that sort of had the -- reveals
the problem. although it's serious, and i think in some respects very impressive effort to revive the high moral calling of progressive democracy, obama's osawatomie speech also reflects the highlight of reform in some ways that born feared. the most effective parts of the address drew parallels to voez velt's claim that massive disruptions in society and economy, the unleashing of powerful commercial forces embodied by giant corporations, required that the national government, roosevelt has the audacity to call it the national state, has new responsibilities to protect the quality of opportunity. roosevelt believed, obama observed, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. it led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world. but roosevelt also knew, he continued, that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can.
our country, he quoted from t.r.'s address, means nothing unless it means the triumph of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that is in him. for this, obama continued, and if you watch the video, at this point he made a knowing gesture. for this, he said, roosevelt was called a radical, a socialist and even a communist. but today we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign. and then the president listed roosevelt's leading proposals that have become an important part of american politics. an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage for women, insurance for the unemployed, the elderly and those with disabilities, political reform and a progressive income. like the republican roosevelt, and i think intentionally obama did not invoke fdr, obama claimed that his reform program
aspired to deploy a more effective national government in the service of fair play that is neither socialist or capitalist. that is neither democratic or republican. that serves neither the tea party or occupy wall street. that served, he summed up, the progressive principles that were now interwoven into the fabric of american life. that's all good stuff. but i'm not sure that obama's own reform aspirations live up to that billing. they seem somewhat tepid in comparison to t.r.'s new nationalism. he called for an extension of the payroll tax in the short run and more generally for a fair tax code. these are important measures, to be sure, but he did not offer a strategic vision of bold, progressive initiatives for a new political order as t.r. did. nor did he explain how the landmark health care and
financial reform legislation enacted in 2010, really important pieces of legislation, were the building blocks of a new fun dags. the new foundation was a term tried out early in the obama presidency but he did not revisit it, strangely, in osawatomie. it is odd, one of my more sober colleagues said astonishing, but perhaps telling that the president did not even mention health care reform in kansas. it's particularly odd and astonishing because this is the signature achievement of his first term. this is the holy grail or it had been the holy grail of progressive democracy since t.r.'s bull moose campaign. true to his ruthless pragmatism, as one journalist put it, obama addressed states no high moral
purpose. true to his ruthless pragmatic, as one put it, obama states more of a rear guard than progressiveness. in contrast, roosevelt was mostly a political call to arms. t.r.'s speech was much more comprehensive, not just economic but also to citizenship, conservation and america's role in the world. furthermore, whereas obama's speech avoided what jim ceaser called foundational concept, t.r. framed his call for an ambitious reform as all consequential american reformers had, in the fundamental principles of the declaration, the constitution and the connection between them. the 1910 speech was delivered at the dedication, as bill mentioned, of the john brown battlefield. t.r. condemned the violent tactics of brown's fight in bloody kansas. he compared that fight to the socialists of his own time. but he acknowledged that that fight was aroused by the country's rank hypocrisy. he said in name we had the
declaration of independence in 1776. but we gave the lie by our acts to the words of the declaration of independence until 1865. until the enactment of the 13th amendment. so, roosevelt argued, the industrial revolution, a crisis no less great than the civil war, he insisted, required a fundamental realignment of declaration and constitution. indeed, a more fundamental redefinition of the social contract. especially a rethinking of the right to property. as he put it in his new spashlism speech, the man who wrongly hold that every human plight is second tear to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare. who rightly maintains that every man holds property subject to the general right of the community, who regulate its use to whatever degree the public
welfare may require it. this subordination of property to human defense of the welfare state or the regulatory state or attack on big business. t.r.'s assault on property was drawing to progressives' hope for a moral awakening, as he put it, where americans might be emancipated for their obsession with, and he also called it a fetish for rights, might be emancipated for their obsession with the slavish pursuit of selfish materialism and become more committed to a sense of responsibility. he championed things like conservation and the righteous use of force in the world, especially, because t.r. believed these objectives would strengthen the fabric of american society. it would help americans tra transcend themselves to make for a great nation.
righteousness would proclaim -- e.j. told me to pound the podium but i have a sore hand -- there you have it, righteousness, roosevelt proclaimed in the final sentence of the longer version of the new nationalism speech which was published a few days later in the outlay not made required reading for this thing, in that longer speech he said righteousness exalteth the nation. this invocation of proverb in the king james version of the bible reveals how progressivism at its founding was infused with the social gospel, a religiosity for better and worse, obama and contemporary progressives usually avoid. let me go back to a point that goes back to the beginning of my remarks. perhaps was born here the hollowing out of progressivism if i can put it that way was the logical outcome of its faith in national
administration, the fate of this progressive creed, the creed that human rights must take precedence over property rights was to rest on the shoulders of the steward of the public welfare. that is a really beguiling phrase that i still struggle to understand. matt suggested that this commitment to a presidency centered, executive centered democracy, showed a commitment to expertise. i'm not so sure of that. knowing that such a modern executive presupposed, as crowley put it, administrative aggrandizement, a kind of statism americans had not shunned and feared, t.r. insisted paradoxically the new state had to be connected
vitally to public opinion. roosevelt's new nationalism, his dedication to state building, this distinguished him from his counterparts in western europe and great britain, he believed that state building had to go hand in hand, as he put it in the new nationalism speech, with more direct action by the people in their own affairs. the direct primary, he said, in kansas, would be a positive step in this directive. and during the 1912 campaign what he would engage the incumbent president, william howard taft in the first presidential primary campaign, roosevelt defended a full throated, pure democracy, as he called it. which included an easier method to amend the constitution, and the opportunity for the people to recall all public officials. including the president. as bill schambra has pointed out, the stand of taft and -- combined with ruthless steam
roller machine politics, deprived t.r. of the republican nomination. and most likely a third term in the white house during which he might have enacted his constitutional program. but roosevelt's third party crusade for the right of the people to be the ultimate makers of their constitution, as he put it, aroused considerable enthusiasm. he won nearly 30% of the vote. and it is echoed throughout the 20th and 21st century. most of the aspirations that underlay that program have been firmly rooted in custom. an unwritten law that presidents derive their authority directly from the people. directly from public opinion. and i would argue -- i'll let jim make this argument more fully than i. i would argue this is a strain of progressivism. this notion that the president must be a steward of the public welfare that embodies the will of the people in programatic efforts, i would argue this has been embraced since fdr by democrat and republican presidents.
by liberals and conservatives. so having said that, let me finish with this. although the legacy of progressive democracy transcends the ideological battles of the moment in an important way, its pervasiveness raises profound questions. can an executive senate administrative state be compatible with an active and competent citizenry. can the modern presidency, even with the tools of instant communication and social media, function as a truly democratic institution with meaningful links to the public? these were the fundamental questions that troubled the critics of t.r.'s new nationalism. and they still haunt american democracy. for all the important differences. i'll name these three. this is a prediction. between president obama, newt gingrich and mitt romney, those are the three i think are still standing. all three are committed. i would say to presidential leadership in the t.r. mold. they all champion national administrative power, although
for very different objectives. and they all claim that this power must be used in the name of the whole people. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you for the kind introduction. barack obama's most notable achievement before being elected president was a literary one. authorship of his fine personal memoir, "dreams from my father." which recounts his agonizing search as a youth for a stable identity. a quest that concludes in his embrace of his absent father's grace and his adoption of an african-american persona. like his effort to secure a firm anchor in his private life, his public career seems to have followed a parallel search for stable political identity.
recall the launch of his presidential campaign in 2007. in a speech before the old state capitol in springfield, illinois. his speech was all about chaneling abraham lincoln. whom obama described as a tall, gangly self-made springfield lawyer. i think the tall and gangly was a reference to himself. following his successful 2008 campaign, obama was likened to, comparison, he was likened to the greatest democratic leader, franklin roosevelt. as fdr had led his party out of the political wilderness and fashioned a political realignment for liberalism, so barack obama seemed destined to do the same for the democrats of our day. that and even more. now in the latest stop on his modern political journey, barack obama has lit on his ultimate model. in the unlikely figure of the
wealthy, stocky and pugnacious teddy roosevelt. not the teddy roosevelt of his earlier rough rider phase, leading from ahead the charge up san juan hill. nor the teddy roosevelt in his last phase as a champion of nationalist eugenics but the teddy roosevelt of the middle period. as the budding leader of the progressive. which, of course, is the label that barack obama and other democrats on the left have chosen for themselves today. obama to his roots in the small town of osawatomie. answering his political dream by rediscovering its paternit in the very place where teddy roosevelt had pronounced one of his most famous speeches. obama's speech has been touted as the document that represents his program or vision for the nation today. it is the platform for the 1912 campaign.
and what a difference in tone from 2008. when obama preached unity and slightly stretching lincoln a bit, he spoke of a figure who called on a house divided on itself to stand together. that wasn't quite the lincoln i remember. but now, in any case, with teddy roosevelt looking over his shoulder, obama has made the line of division bright and clear. with malice towards the 1% and charity for the 99%. obama's theme deliberately echoes the message or the more confrontational occupy wall street movement. and the effort of obama's speech is to burnish that movement's recently tarnished reputation. by, of all things, likening it to the democratic and populous spirit of the tea party. a movement that president obama once despaired. and that the white house asked the minions and its press to vilify. now thpr